They say you can never go home again.

But every once in awhile I try. I was putting the finishing touches on my packing list when my cousin Catherine called. She was going to be in Hayward on business. (For those of you trying to get a feel for where I live, this is totally anomalous. Nobody comes to Hayward. They come to Palo Alto or Mountain View or Berkeley or the City or whatever, and then they come down to Hayward to visit us. But Cath was coming straight to Hayward, right down the road from us.) So I said, "Come on over for dinner!" and she did.

Here's us. I'm the one on the right. Note the decor of the apartment: bookshelves. We have nine of them, six feet tall apiece. But only seven are out in the living room.

The next morning, Timprov drove Mark and me to the airport at the very hind end of dawn. I read Trickster Makes This World. I read A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters. I started both Anno Dracula and Alan Turing: The Enigma. I worked on new short stories. I even slept a little on the flight to Ontario. ("I thought you said you were going to Omaha!" Yes, smart person, Ontario and Omaha are indeed distinct. But they routed us through Ontario, CA, on our way to Phoenix.) I can never sleep during the day, but sleep I did. And woke up in Ontario. Oh. In my other place books, there's a region known as The Grey Place. And if I had to make a real-life model for The Grey Place, it would be Ontario, CA. One of the most unpleasant-looking towns I have ever been through. And I spent a lot of time driving Iowa before we moved out here. Iowa was much better. This was grey tarmac, grey roads, grey parking lots, grey warehouses, grey sky. Ugh.

So we escaped Ontario and made it to Omaha in time for supper. Stayed up late talking with the parents. Woke up to Coco-Wheats. Which are, for you uninitiated, a gourmet treat. My mom makes 'em thick, so I could slice off a slab o' cereal in the mornings when I wanted one. Mmmm. CocoWheats. We also went shopping and to Spirit World for lunch. Spirit World is not what it seems -- I keep expecting ghosts and such to pop out of the woodwork -- but no, they mean the kind that's more ubiquitous in a Tim Powers novel. The kind that comes in a bottle. They make hunter chicken salad of which mine is only an approximation. They make rosemary bread. If you have a recipe for rosemary flatbread, please let me know. I crave it mightily.

But I didn't take my camera there, so no pictures of Spirit World for you. I did stick it in my purse when we went to Vivace, though. If you go to Omaha, and you only have time for one meal, make it Vivace. They have all kinds of freak-o flavored pastas with interesting sauces, make your own combination, and this lovely tomato stuff for on the bread, and...

Chocolate toffee mousse cake with a slivered hazelnut crust. Mmmm. I would look much happier eating that cake if it hadn't taken us three or four adjustments to get the camera to take. Ah well. So we had Vivace food with Kev and Michael, and then we drove back to the folks and watched a comedy tape with someone who proclaimed himself an executive transvestite and also talked about Americans and history, and also did the last ten minutes of his routine as the first ten minutes of his routine, but in French.

Kev found it most amusing.

So did the rest of us. There's more.